One of the biggest keys that people always forget when looking for a training plan is that it has to fit you. It has to match the days you work out and it has to be for YOU. It seems to me that sometimes people get so obsessed with a given training plan or finding a training plan that they forget about who is doing all the training in the first place. If this means you have to sit down and write up your own training plan, so be it, but just make sure that the training plan is right for you.
I am a firm believer in the fact that anyone can run, anytime. Not just by being chased but you can run. Running may not always be easy, it may not always be fun, but you can do it. I also believe that the easiest way to injury and burn out is starting to fast. If you want to just start out and have absolutely no base, I have heard the best things about the couch to 5k plan. It sounds strange to start out walk running but it’s the best way to start. If your start out going to run two miles, the next day you’ll be sore, tired and will not want to run again. Not smart. Start slow, and allow your body time to heal and get used to running.
Another big thing is that you CAN change any training plan. I have had people ask me about a certain training plan and then they say something like, “But I just don’t want to do track workouts on Wednesday, I would just like to run nice easy mileage that day.” Um… Okay? So do it! You don’t have to follow the training plan to an exact science, all training plans are suggestions of improvement. There are SO many different training plans out there and you can use whatever part of them you want, piecing together a training plan that works for you is so important.
Lastly, before I go into some good links where I’ve found training plans is don’t get obsessed with your training plan. Some people would kill someone to if they don’t get their 6 mile tempo run in on Thursday evening because they had to stay late at work. Guess what? Stuff like this happens in real life and you have to be realistic with this plan. Sometimes when you oversleep and don’t get your workout in, it’s not the end of the world. You won’t completely ruin yourself for missing just one day. Don’t make it a habit to skip out on workouts, but also don’t pick a six day plan when you know you can only workout four days a week. Stuff comes up, live continues whether your training or not, and getting obsessive with your training plan isn’t going to help anyone improve.
So when choosing and looking at training plans think about yourself, think about what works for you, and think about your overall goal. Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to just finish a race? Do you want to improve your time?
When I first started back into racing and signed up for the Long Beach Half Marathon for October 2008, I found a simple plan on Runner’s World (that was free, just keep searching) and followed the plan loosely. The key to running distances is upping your mileage. On the week days I ran 3-4 days a week pending my schedule and ran one 6 mile run, one 4 mile run and then a 2-4 mile run. On my longer run days, I upped my mileage every weekend by one mile until I got to 10 miles. I started with 6 miles. It doesn’t seem like that much but each weekend I was amazed at how much farther I could run. I did not, I repeat, DID NOT work on any type of speed work or timed runs. I just ran. So many people get so caught up in getting faster, what their time what, what their pace was. Enjoy it! Don’t worry about your time all the time! There will be a time and place for that, but if you are just going out and running, just enjoy it. Guess what, I’m not going to the Olympics anytime soon. I’m not going to be the fastest girl at the marathon, so you know what, time doesn’t really matter all that much to me.
Perhaps it’s possibly the fact that when racing in high school I was so obsessed with my times and splits and counting this and my pace of that, that now it doesn’t matter to me, and I just go out and enjoy running and the ability to run, but that might just be me, because I do know a lot of number obsessed people and there is nothing wrong with that, but for me, it’s not about how fast I run or what this is compared to this.
So back to plans. Then for San Diego I followed a six day plan that was made personally for me by a friend. Too intense for me, but you can find a plan similar to my plan if you follow a Hal Higdon plan. There are also plans that are by Pfitz and those are too intense for me at this time. Google both those names and you can find a plethora of training plans by them. They both have also written books if you are interested in taking a peek at your local bookstore. You can find so many different training plans on Runner’s World, that is where I get a lot of my ideas. BUT I would NEVER pay for a ‘training plan’ you can come up with that on your own. Just think about your mileage and plot something out on a calendar if you are just looking to complete a race. Speed workout might be a little different, but that is also not my focus at this time.
I wanted to put links to specific plans in here, but I didn’t want people to get into one plan just because it was on my website. I think that finding a plan that is suitable for you not only makes training fun and helpful, but it also makes it personal. Google, Google, Google!
There are so many resources out there for people who are looking for a training plan. Google it, go to a local small running store and ask questions, go to the library or book store and look in the running section. Google is your best friend when it comes to stuff like this. You can find so many answers online just by searching for training plans, and if you find something that you remotely like but one day is off or two days are not looking how you’d like… CHANGE IT! It’s YOURS! 🙂 Remember it’s all about you and your goals. It’s okay to tweak this here and change this here.
Also, I posted about the training I went through for Long Beach here. Remember, right now I’m NOT running for time so I don’t do speed workouts. You can see how I upped my mileage for Long Beach and just kept it pretty consistent throughout my training. My long runs became longer and before I knew it, it was race day.